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Nonprofit Digital Marketing Obstacles

Nonprofits Can’t Afford to Play Digital Marketing Catch-Up

Having worked in nonprofits for almost a decade before founding Firefly Partners 12 years ago, I know firsthand that you and your team have plenty on your plates. You are passionate and driven and you get up every day to achieve your goals toward making a just world. With all you have going on, it can be easy to look at digital marketing strategies and say, “I don’t know about this, I can’t afford this, and I and don’t have time for this.” Here’s why we think these are three obstacles that nonprofits need to overcome.

Obstacle One: “I don’t know where to start.”

Something we tell every organization we work with is that these tools are an aid to help you get your message to the right people at the right time. The best place to start is to think about what’s getting in your way of achieving your goals and then prioritize your next steps based on the most significant roadblocks. Is it that you don’t have enough supporters? Enough money? Enough presence in the crowd? Once you know the order in which you want to tackle these challenges, you can break each task into bite-sized chunks.

Example: Many nonprofits look at email strategy and get overwhelmed by all the options, variables, and approaches. Yes, there are lots of things you can do to improve how you email your list. No, you don’t have to do them all at once. In reality, email upgrades should happen incrementally over many months and build on each other. Start with a new template design that you know will render correctly on most devices and programs. Using that template, set up a welcome series for new signups and a re-engagement series to help you connect with your lapsed supporters. Finally, use the data from the conversions generated via email to segment your list. The end result is that you’re delivering the most meaningful content to the right people.

Case Study: Huntsman Cancer Foundation

Obstacle Two: “We can’t afford this.”

Ignore the notion that a smart digital marketing strategy involves spending huge amounts of money all at once. You will have to spend money to raise money, but there are ways to up your game that don’t require million-dollar budgets. Most importantly, a smart strategy is to gather as much data as you can so you can prioritize where you dedicate funds moving forward.

Example: Would it be great to have a shiny new website? Sure. Is that the only way to make your online presence better? No. Google’s suite of tools can help you improve your existing site. Use Analytics to understand what content is resonating, Optimize to experiment with different text, images, and layouts, and eCommerce tracking to see which channels are driving the most conversions. Small changes can make a big difference, and all these tools are free to use and simple to learn. If a new website is on the distant horizon, you can use all this data to inform the design and development process.

Case Study: Food Bank of the Rockies

Obstacle Three: “We don’t have capacity to manage this.”

As you take on new tools and strategies, you and your team will absolutely have to find ways to dedicate time and energy to manage them. But you need to shift your thinking from the idea that these are just additional tasks to recognizing that this is an investment in your mission. You don’t want to waste your breath on people who won’t take your side, and the right tools can help you clear up the clutter and make stronger connections. A partnership with a team like Firefly means you can split the tasks into ones you need to become experts in, ones you can gain expertise in over time, and ones you don’t really need to learn. This incremental approach eases that feeling that you’ll be overwhelmed and abandoned.

Example: Social media and search engines are two important ways that nonprofits can reach new supporters. Both require technical understanding of rules and requirements plus great content to drive people to. You may not be experts when it comes to the ins and outs of Facebook and Google Ads, but you are experts in your mission. So, balance the tasks and let your outside partner (that’s us!) manage the accounts while you create the content that tells your organization’s story. Once you have a firm grasp on how to update your website you can then get trained on how to spread your message far and wide.

Case Study: Active Minds

Digital marketing tools are no small thing, but they’re more than just a nice-to-have. Your mission is only as strong as its reach – it’s not enough to just do good work, you have to find people who will support you and spread your message further. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach but there are steps that every organization, large or small, can take. Don’t let the fear factor get the best of you when it comes to using the right tools and technology to get the recognition you deserve and the growth you need. Let’s start working together today.

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